No. 8 UC Opens BIG EAST Play at No. 24 Pitt
UC junior center David Nyarsuk

Dec. 29, 2012

GameTracker Statistics | Cincinnati Game Notes | ESPN2/

The No. 8/8 University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team begins BIG EAST Conference play on New Year’s Eve when it travels to Pittsburgh for a noon tip off against the Panthers. The contest will be televised by ESPN2 and is also available on 700 WLW-AM.

Cincinnati (12-1) suffered its first loss of the season on Thursday when it fell short to visiting New Mexico 55-54 at Fifth Third Arena. Sean Kilpatrick led the Bearcats with 15 points and four three-pointers. JaQuon Parker added 14 points and six rebounds. Cashmere Wright contributed 12 points and four assists.

Pitt (12-1) climbed into the national rankings on Dec. 24 at No. 24 and will be the Bearcats’ first ranked opponent this season. The Panthers posted a 59-43 home win over Kennesaw State on Dec. 23 in their final game before the holiday break. Talib Zanna led the squad with 12 points and nine rebounds.  

The Bearcats  snapped a five-game losing streak to Pitt on New Year’s Day last season with a 66-63 win against the then-No. 22 Panthers. It marked the first of UC’s school-record eight wins against ranked opponents last season.

The UC-Pitt series is tied 8-8 overall. Pitt leads 5-3 in Pittsburgh and 1-0 at neutral sites while UC leads 5-2 in Cincinnati.

Game at a Glance
Series Info: 17th meeting; Series is tied 8-8 overall; Pitt leads 5-3 in Pittsburgh; UC leads 5-2 in Cincinnati; Pitt leads 1-0 at neutral sites. STREAK - Cincinnati won the last game.
Last Meeting: Cincinnati won 66-63 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, 2012.
Coaches: Mick Cronin is in his seventh season at Cincinnati (125-89); 10th season overall (194-113).
Jamie Dixon is in his 10th season as head coach at Pittsburgh (250-78); 10th season overall (250-78).
Rankings: Cincinnati was ranked No. 8 in both the AP and USA Today polls for the week of Dec. 24.
Pittsburgh was ranked No. 24 in both the AP and USA Today polls for the week of Dec. 24.
Radio: 700 WLW; Dan Hoard provides play-by-play with color analyst Chuck Machock.
TV: ESPN2; Marc Kestecher provides play-by-play with color analyst Bob Knight. Eric Mosley produces.
UC Twitter Page: @GoBEARCATS

Cincinnati Storylines
-Cincinnati begins its eighth season of play in the BIG EAST Conference at Pittsburgh on Monday. UC is 5-2 in BIG EAST openers, having won its last three.
-The Bearcats were picked to finish fourth in the BIG EAST behind Louisville, Syracuse and Notre Dame in a preseason poll of league coaches.
-The Bearcats are coming off their best season in the league tying for fourth with a 12-6 mark last season. Through tie breakers, UC received the No. 4 seed in the BIG EAST Championship -- the Bearcats’ first double bye in the league tournament. UC then proceeded to outlast Georgetown 72-70 in double overtime in the quarterfinals and upset No. 2 Syracuse 71-68 in the semifinals. UC dropped a 50-44 decision to Louisville in the Bearcats’ first appearance in the BIG EAST Championship title game.
-Since the start of the 2010-11 season Cincinnati ranks third in the league with 64 overall wins, behind only Syracuse (71) and Louisville (66). The Bearcats are tied for third in the conference with Marquette at 23 league wins behind only Syracuse (29) and Notre Dame (27).  
-Today’s game marks the first time this season UC will face a ranked opponent in No. 24 Pitt. UC finished last season with a school-record eight wins over ranked foes.
-UC enters today’s game having won nine of its last 11 games away from Fifth Third Arena starting with a 72-68 victory at Villanova in the 2012 BIG EAST regular-season finale on March 3.  
-The Bearcats were one of the last five undefeated Division I teams this season (along with Arizona, Duke, Michigan and Wyoming).
-Thursday’s loss to New Mexico marked only the fourth loss suffered by UC before the month January since the start of the 2010-11 campaign (36-4 in November and December).

Scouting Pitt
-Pittsburgh enters Monday’s game on an eight-game win streak after posting a 59-43 home win over Kennesaw State on Dec. 23.
-The Panthers are led by junior forward Talib Zanna who averages a team-best 13.2 points and 6.3 rebounds. He is shooting a team-high 62.4 percent from the field (63 of 101).
-Senior guard Tray Woodall (11.7 points) and junior forward J.J. Moore (10.3 points) also average double figures in scoring for Pitt. Woodall, a preseason BIG EAST honorable mention selection by the league’s coaches, leads the squad in three-pointers made (1.8 per game), assists (5.9) and steals (1.1).
-Freshman center Steven Adams, the BIG EAST preseason rookie of the year honoree selected by the league’s coaches,  leads Pitt in blocks with 1.9 per game.
-The Panthers were picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST.
-Pitt finished last season 22-17 overall, 5-13 in the BIG EAST. The Panthers won the postseason College Basketball Invitational to conclude the year.       

The Pitt Series
-The series is tied 8-8 entering Monday’s game. Pitt leads 5-3 in Pittsburgh and 1-0 at neutral sites while Cincinnati leads 5-2 in the Queen City.
-Cincinnati snapped a five-game losing streak to Pitt last season with a 66-63 win at the Petersen Events Center on New Year’s Day. The win was UC’s first at Pitt since a 78-75 overtime victory on Jan. 10, 1979. It also marked the first Bearcats’ win at Pitt in four tries since joining the BIG EAST.
-The Bearcats have never won consecutive games in Pittsburgh in series history.